What I Read in February 2016 Part I . . .Sprinkle with Murder by Jenn McKinlay (Cupcake Bakery Mystery #1)--Cozy Mystery
Mel Cooper and Anglie DeLaura have been best friends since middle school. They recently left their traditional jobs to open Fairy Tale Cupcakes, the cupcake bakery of their dreams with their best friend Tate Harper as an investor. The trio have been happy as friends sharing a passion for old movies and junk food. Now things are about to change because Tate is marrying star fashion designer Stevens and Christie wants Mel and Angie to make the cupcakes. Christie turns out to be a bridezilla but Mel realizes this could be a golden opportunity to bring in more business for the shop. Fairy Tale Cupcake's biggest rival, Olivia Puckett is none too pleased and would do anything to put Fairy Tale Cupcakes out of business. Would she stoop to murder? When Christie is found dead with one of Mel's exclusive cupcakes in her hand, the police suspect Mel murdered Christie in a fit of passion because Mel loves Tate. Mel knows nothing could be farther from the truth but no one seems to believe her, not even Angie's hunky older brother, Joe DeLaura, an assistant at the DA's office. Only Angie and Tate believe in Mel and the ladies set out to clear Mel's name and find out who the real killer is.
This is a cute, fluffy mystery. It is similar in tone to Jenn McKinlay's Hat Shop mysteries but the characters have a little more depth. The plot was pretty typical of a cozy mystery. I didn't find it super engaging that I HAD to stay up all night. I thought I knew who the murderer was anyway but I was surprised by the direction the story took. I found it hard to believe the police would zero in on Mel and not look at other suspects. I also thought Mel and Angie were kind of stupid to confront suspected murderers. Mel also makes a stupid mistake that almost leads to another murder.
I especially liked the relationship between Mel, Angie and Tate. It was nice to read about friends who are just friends and a guy who isn't gay being friends with a woman. I strongly identify with Mel and what she went through in Junior High. I wish I had had an Angie in my life. I really felt a lot more sympathetic towards Mel because of it. Mel is kind of stupid at times, which is typical for a cozy mystery heroine but I admire her and Angie for having the guts to live their dream. I also love the characters because I love old movies. I really liked Tate. He seems very genuine and kind. I don't know how intelligent he is to want to marry Christie!
The secondary characters are all crazy, except for Joe. Joe is tall, dark, handsome and a very good prosecutor but like Tate, he lacks common sense where women are concerned. I'm not sure I really like him. Scottsdale, Arizona must be breeding crazy people because Angie's whole family and Mel's mom are too outrageous to be believed and the villain/s is/are also totally insane. I found those characters hard to take because they didn't seem realistic.
There are four cupcake recipes in the back of the book. They sound wonderful and I was so happy to see so many different cupcakes. I'd like to read more of the series as a fun diversion in the next few weeks.
A Blunt Instrument by Georgette Heyer--Historical Mystery
P.C. Ichabod Glass discovers the body of the wealthy Ernest Fletcher lying over his desk with his head bashed in with a blunt instrument. Who did it, when, what/where is the murder weapon are the questions Inspector Hannasyde must answer. In order to do his job he has to put up with Ichabod's moralizing and a bunch of suspects who aren't telling the truth. Was it the heir in need of money? A lovely lady who wanted her IOU's back or her husband seeking revenge? What about her sister, a crime novelist, plotting out a new book? Could it be the man Fletcher hired to make shady business deals on his behalf or someone else known to the police?
This is my 4th Georgette Heyer contemporary (1930s) mystery I've read and the best one so far. I couldn't put it down until I was done. I just could not figure out who did it. I had a guess early on and another guess fleetingly crossed my mind but was dismissed because I just couldn't think it through. I did get it once the biggest clue was planted towards the end so I wasn't entirely surprised by the reveal. The writing is much better than in other mysteries but not as high quality as her Regencies. I especially liked the dialogue between Hannysmede and Hemingway but most especially when Neville Fletcher was around annoying the Scripture-quoting Glass with counter quotes. The one big thing I didn't like was in the beginning there were lots of Anti-Semitic comments about a character. I get that people thought that way but there could have been other ways for her to describe a character without using the word Jewish in front of the adjectives.
The characters are more likable than in previous Heyer mysteries I've read and more memorable. My favorite character is Neville, Ernie Fletcher's nephew. Neville reminded me of a P.G. Wodehouse character like Bertie Wooster. Neville acts like he's not very bright and cares for nothing. He uses his brain more than he wants to admit and has a good heart. I love how he was able to put his brain to good use to enter into a sort of verbal sparring match with the Bible-quoting Glass. I also really liked Sally, the crime novelist. Like Neville she pretends she doesn't care about anything but her novels but she actually cares quite a lot for her sister and tries all she can to help. Hannasyde and Hemingway were also fun characters. I liked Hannasyde's patience and intelligence but I liked him best when he was complaining about Ichabod with Hemingway. The two of them pair well together. I've met Hemingway before but he wasn't very memorable and I suspect I won't remember him again if I read another mystery. I liked Glass at first because he was a comical figure but the more moralizing he did the less I liked him, especially when he moralized over his superiors. My least favorite character was Helen. She was just TOO TOO stupid. I wanted to slap her. Her husband John wasn't much better.
This was a fun, light mystery. Thank you to Georgette Heyer and her husband, Ronald Rougier for coming up with an engaging mystery and fun characters.